MonitorsPublished on Aug 24, 2016
China Weekly Report | Volume VI; Issue 29

< style="color: #0069a6;">POLITICS AND SOCIETY

< style="color: #163449;">China tightens grip over social groups through greater Communist Party presence

China’s Communist Party will tighten control over social groups by installing local party branches or liaison cadres in those organisations, according to new rules released late on Sunday. The guidelines, which apply to a range of social organisations including semi-government bodies, social service foundations, trade unions and NGOs, come on the back of a controversial foreign NGO management law imposed earlier in 2016. The new rules, stated in a lengthy document, were jointly released by the general offices of the State Council and Communist Party on August 21 as part of overall reform plans to manage domestic social organisations. According to the document, a universal registry system for all social organisations will be set up by 2020. The document stressed the need to strengthen the party’s role in guiding these groups and urged reform and innovation in supervising them. Source: South China Morning Post, August 22, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Pro-independence activists stage protest at airport as mainland official visits Taiwan

Taiwanese shouting anti-communist slogans staged an airport protest on August 22 against a visit by a top Shanghai official which they see as intended to promote China’s unification with Taiwan. Sha Hailin, a standing committee member of the Communist Party in the city and head of the United Front Work Department in China’s commercial capital, is the highest-level mainlander to visit since cross-strait ties worsened under Taiwan’s new government. He arrived in Taipei for an annual forum on municipal exchanges as protesters shouted “Sha, go back to China!” at the capital’s Songshan airport. Relations with mainland China have grown increasing frosty since Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party won the presidency in January. Beijing is highly suspicious of Tsai because her party is traditionally pro-independence and has warned her against any attempt at a breakaway. Source: South China Morning Post, August 22, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">China speeds up efforts to relocate poor people

China's poverty-stricken regions have ramped up efforts to start housing construction and relocate poor people to more prosperous areas, according to the country's top economic planner. Local authorities in 22 provinces and autonomous regions have spent ¥58 billion ($8.8 billion) on relocation projects, with construction started on over 10,000 of them, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) revealed. China plans to relocate 2.49 million poor people in 2016. So far, 718 projects have been completed and 226,000 people have moved, the NDRC said. Despite decades of growth, there were still 70 million people living below the poverty line last year, many in harsh conditions without roads, water or power. Eliminating rural poverty is the most difficult challenge in building a "moderately prosperous society," and the government aims to complete the task by 2020. Source: South China Morning Post, August 23, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">FOREIGN AFFAIRS

< style="color: #163449;">International trade corridor tested

A pilot route to simplify international freight transportation across China, Mongolia and Russia hit the road in Tianjin on August 18, aiming to boost economic cooperation and trade between the countries. "The pilot trip is an effective trial to carry out the nations' top strategic plans in the transportation field, and also a move to deepen economic cooperation in the economic corridor through China, Mongolia and Russia," said Liu Xiaoming, vice-minister of transportation, adding that the pilot trip will coordinate freight transportation policies and standards in the economic corridor, aiming to simplify freight transport procedures along the route. In July, China joined the TIR Convention, an international system allowing transportation of authorised goods through member states with-out being subject to customs inspections. It takes effect on Jan 5. Russia and Mongolia are already TIR member countries. The estimated seven-day trip covering 2,152 kilometers will stop at 11 cities, including China's border city Erenhot, Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar and Russia's Ulan-Ude. Source: China Daily, August 22, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Suu Kyi meets Xi, to boost ties

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi met on August 19 with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to strengthen ties that have been challenged by Myanmar’s democratic reforms and the suspension of Chinese projects in the country. Xi said he hopes Suu Kyi’s five-day visit will boost “strategic cooperation between our two nations.”  Suu Kyi replied that “both sides are advancing relations and deepening mutual understanding and friendship.” The fate of a stalled $3.6 billion dam project in northern Myanmar funded primarily by Chinese energy interests has been a key concern during the visit. Overwhelming local opposition to the Myitsone dam project led Myanmar’s previous president, Thein Sein, to suspend it. Speaking to reporters, Suu Kyi said she had nothing new to announce concerning the dam, which is to be reviewed by a recently formed commission on hydroelectric projects along the Irrawaddy River. Source: The Washington Post, August 19, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">China, ASEAN aim to complete framework for South China Sea rules next year

China and a grouping of Southeast Asian nations aim to finish by the middle of next year a framework for a code of conduct to ease tension in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on August 17. Since 2010, China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been discussing a set of rules aimed at avoiding conflict among rival claimants in the busy waterway. Last month, an arbitration court in The Hague ruled that China had no historic title over the South China Sea and had breached the Philippines' sovereign rights there. The decision infuriated Beijing, which dismissed the court's authority. Meeting in northeastern China, the two sides agreed to get the framework for the code of conduct done by mid-2017, and also approved guidelines for a China-ASEAN hotline for use during maritime emergencies. They also agreed that a pact on unplanned maritime encounters, signed in 2014 by countries in the region, applied to the South China Sea. Source: Reuters, August 17, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">ECONOMY

< style="color: #163449;">Spotlight: Expectations on G20 trade and investment

The Group of 20 Summit will be held in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou from September 4-5. Under the backdrop of a sluggish world economy and fatigued global trade, observers have voiced high expectations on the big changes the summit could deliver. Yi Xiaozhun, deputy director-general of the World Trade Organisation, said during an exclusive interview with Xinhua that if G20 leaders can hold active and constructive discussions on the topic of "trade and investment" and adopt the G20 global trade growth strategy, world trade should increase over time. In the areas of trade and investment, space still exists for cooperation and development. As the host country of this G20 Summit, China has put trade and investment on an equal standing with finance and banking. China has said it will push for the adoption of a global trade growth strategy and lay out guiding principles for global investment policies to facilitate cross-border investment. The strategy, once adopted, will largely boost global trade and investment, Yi said. Source: Xinhua, August 21, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">India-China production capacity ties don’t mean exporting Chinese polluting industries

India may need to carefully think about whether it wants to resist or embrace the migration of China's production capacity, which allegedly involves some investment in heavy polluting industries. China's leading train maker China Railway Rolling Stock (CRRC) Corporation Ltd announced over the weekend that it had started operations at its first joint venture plant in India. The move is hailed by some media as an opportunity for creating jobs for local people, but some Chinese netizens are not optimistic about China's increasing manufacturing investment in India, with one netizen suggesting that China's efforts could, on the contrary, receive a cold shoulder from India. Not many netizens are rational economists, but chatter on the Internet does sometimes display a viewpoint that may circulate within Chinese society and influence investors. A considerable part of China's excess production capacity could be conductive in boosting the local economy if they can be transported to India. A large number of Chinese manufacturers have acquired far more advanced technology than some local Indian firms despite those Chinese enterprises suffered problems of overcapacity domestically. India may want to consider offering more opportunities for Chinese manufacturers to invest in the country as both countries could enjoy great potential in production capacity cooperation. Source: Global Times, August 22, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Growth in online purchases by rural Chinese outpaces that of urbanites

Growth in online retail purchases by China's rural residents outpaced that of urban dwellers in the second quarter, official data showed on Wednesday. In the first six months, online retail sales to rural residents exceeded ¥310 billion (46.9 billion US Dollars), Shen Danyang, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), said at a press briefing. Rural online retail sales remarkably outstripped urban sales, he added. MOC data showed that, in the second quarter, rural online sales grew by 13.48 percent from the first quarter. The growth rate was at least 4 percentage points higher than the growth in sales to urban residents. Rural residents spent most of their money on clothing, shoes, home improvement and digital gadgets. For online sales of services in rural areas, online travel booking contributed ¥44.54 billion. Source: Xinhua, August 18, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

< style="color: #163449;">Didi launches car-rental service to tap China’s fast-growing domestic tourist market

China, Didi Chuxing, Shanghai Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has added another service into its growing list of product offerings — renting cars to drivers and the growing number of domestic tourists in the country. Didi is co-operating with car rental companies to rent out vehicles to consumers, the company said in a statement. Users will be able to rent and pay for a vehicle by placing an order in the Didi app two hours in advance, and Didi will have a driver deliver the car to the user’s requested spot. The move is in line with Didi’s asset-free strategy in that it works with local partners or registered drivers to provide transport services, thus freeing up the company from having to own its own fleet of vehicles. The car rental service is currently in the beta stage in Shanghai, and offers users a range of cars including sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and multi-purpose vehicles (MPV), according to Didi. The service will expand to more tier 1 and 2 cities by the first half of 2017. Source: South China Morning Post, August 22, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Cheetah Mobile to accelerate move into content after News Republic acquisition

China’s Cheetah Mobile, considered the world’s leading mobile security and utility app developer, is preparing to accelerate its transition into a viable content-focused business, following a USD 57 million purchase of media app operator News Republic in the second quarter. “This is a huge step for us,” chief technology officer Charles Fan Chenggong told the South China Morning Post. “We can potentially reshape the news industry by introducing a strong, artificial intelligence-driven, personal news delivery service.” The acquisition marks the most-ambitious bet to date by the New York-traded Cheetah Mobile, amid its recent struggle to boost advertising income. Analysts at the Blue Lotus Research Institute in Hong Kong said Cheetah had good “synergy” with News Republic, which works with more than 1650 media partners. Cheetah Mobile had 623 million monthly active users as of June 30. News Republic, with dual headquarters in Bordeaux, France and San Francisco in the US, is available in 37 languages and 40 different editions. Source: South China Morning Post, August 23, 2016

< style="color: #163449;">Nation's next generation of missiles to be highly flexible

China's next-generation cruise missiles will be developed based on a modular design, allowing them to be tailor-made for specific combat situations, and will have a high level of artificial intelligence, according to a senior missile designer. Wang Changqing, director of the General Design Department of the Third Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, told China Daily in an exclusive interview on August 18 that future combat will require weapons to be cost-efficient and flexible. Therefore, the modular design will be a good solution, he said. Wang's department has developed a large family of cruise missiles for the Chinese military. "We plan to adopt a 'plug and play' approach in the development of new cruise missiles, which will enable our military commanders to tailor-make missiles in accordance with combat conditions and their specific requirements, he said on the sidelines of the 2016 Hiwing Forum in Beijing. The forum focused on artificial intelligence and unmanned equipment." Source: China Daily, August 19, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">BIBLIOGRAPHY

People have the right to complain to governments, China Daily, August 23, 2016 K. S. Venkatachalam, India adopts new approach to muscle-flexing China, Japan Times, August 19, 2016 Juan Cole, Dragon Rising? China Seeks Closer Military Cooperation With Syria, Truthdig, August 18, 2016 Free speech must be paramount for meaningful analyst commentSouth China Morning Post, August 22, 2016 Take China’s SOEs out of local government control to halt the zombie firm epidemicSouth China Morning Post, August 22, 2016 China’s scientific breakthroughs are for the benefit of all, South China Morning Post, August 22, 2016 Imagination sparks innovation, Xinhua, August 20, 2016

< style="color: #0069a6;">Contributors:

  • Sreeparna Banerjee
  • Pratnashree Basu
  • Ambalika Guha
  • Swagata Saha
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